12/25 Terror Culprit: “Information Sharing Environment”?


How was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab able to board a flight for his attempted Christmas Day bombing on Northwest Airlines Flight 253? It isn’t easy to determine amid the “mountains of blame-slinging rhetoric from politicians, pundits, and talk show hosts,” says Paul Wormeli of the IJIS Institute, which promotes better criminal-justice information technology. Wormeli’s candidate for improvement is something called the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

Wormeli quotes Lewis Shepherd, chief technology officer of Microsoft's Institute for Advanced Technology In Governments, saying that “folks don't know about the ISE because it has been a massive – but quiet – bureaucratic exercise in disappointment (some say failure).” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's premature conclusion that, “the system worked” and President Obama's non sequitur that, “there has been a systemic failure” both rest on the questionable assumption that there is indeed a system to fail, says Wormeli. “Given that the ISE has not been built, and that the various agencies on which it is to be based have not implemented the kind of information sharing that was envisioned by the 9-11 Commission, we need to look further for a assessment that will help us develop a rational plan for moving forward,” he says.

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